In what is always a spectacle in the NHL, the Washington Capitals and Penguins renew their rivalry in Washington. The Capitals have won some battles here and there, but the Pens have certainly won the war. After capturing the President’s Trophy last season, the Capitals had their eyes set on the Stanley Cup. A familiar foe wouldn’t allow it to happen, though. The Pens put up a roadblock, shunning the Capitals from making it to the finals. It was a bittersweet kind of hollow season for the Caps.
They had such a productive regular season, but folded up when they were faced with Crosby and the Penguins. That’s kind of how Alexander Ovechkin’s career has gone, getting overlooked by Crosby and company. Ovechkin may own some gaudy numbers over his career, but the guy has no Stanley Cup or gold medal to show for it. Without a doubt, it’s burning a hole deep down in his soul, and I think he would admit that much to you.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Ovechkin bolts for the next Olympics, even if the NHL is not formally going to the games. He already said he’s playing regardless, and I don’t think the NHL can necessarily tell a player like him hat to do. He’ll take a fine and go play anyway, maybe. I couldn’t see him bowing out of the NHL to go play in the KHL so he can play in the Olympics.
All in all, Ovechkin dearly wants a gold medal for Russia, but he will be under contract with the Capitals. Would the Caps have the guts to punish their superstar in some way? Anyway, that’s a ways off. What I’m concerned about is what happens tonight between the Pens and Caps. Let’s get to the pick below, and search for a winner on the ice in the nation’s capital.
The Capitals took out a lot of frustration out on the Penguins in their last meeting, a 7-1 blowout back on November 16th. The Penguins slipped by the Caps the previous two meetings, which included a win in the playoffs, but the Capitals made sure to kick the Penguins while they were down. Pittsburgh haven’t been down often this season. They come into Wednesday night with a record of 26-8-5 and look like a likely candidate to come out of the conference again in the 2016-17 season. Note that they are virtually deadlocked with the Penguins in the standings, both with 26 wins on the season coming into this always exciting matchup.
The Capitals and Penguins typically play a close game, but there was no parity between them a couple months ago. However, the Pens are on a five-game winning streak and have been playing better hockey since then. That loss was a catapult to get the Penguins rolling. Goals have been pouring in for the Penguins lately, as they’ve averaged over 4 goals per game in their last seven games. Holtby has done well against the Penguins, but not up to his standards, with a 2.59 GAA.
I would think Marc-Andre Fleury gets the nod in net, as Murray appears to be on the mend still. Fleury owns a 2.56 GAA against the Capitals, while Murray has a 3.37 GAA. The Capitals have averaged 4 goals in their last six games, 3.40 in their last ten. T.J. Oshie is expected to suit up for the Capitals tonight. Two of the hottest teams, and two of the hottest offences duel in Washington. The UNDER is heavily juiced, but I see this as an opportunity to cash in with two of the best offences in the league on the OVER.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (+110)